Archives of Genesis8 Amstrad Page from 1999 to 2020 about hardware





Building the World's Newest Amstrad CPC 464 by Noel Llopis

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Noel Llopis has made another very interesting video : the making of a totally new Amstrad CPC 464 from a new PCB made by Bob's Bits Replica Boards.

For this first try, he didnt try to add more RAMs, ROMs or existing expansions, for the future maybe ?

Other videos with the hastag #janstrad will be released by other creators with the same idea to create some new old hardware




An Amstrad CPC DDI-1 (for 464) modded with a memory expansion by Zaxxon

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Tjjq44 on System.cfg has modded an original Amstrad CPC DDI-1 disk controller for 464 with a memory expansion by Zaxxon, see the photos below and a video on youtube of the Amstrad CPC 464 loading programs from the DDI-1.

It's necessary to unsolder the 50 pins connector in order to slide in the 512 Kb memory expansion by Zaxxon.

A micro switch let you activate or not the memory expansion.

A wire is used to bridge the +5v of the Amstrad CPC and +5v of the interface so you don't rely on FD-1's power supply anymore. Initially, there's a capacitor between those two pins, you can remove or leave it, it doesn't matter. (Amstrad had done this at the time so that when the user turned off his floppy drive the CPC behaved as if the extension was not present, it avoided having to disconnect the interface or type |TAPE as soon as he wanted to use a tape).

The pins 2,4,6 and 14 have been removed inside each 34 pin connector so that the +5v does not end up on the drive pins. (be careful when opening the connectors, the plastic can break easily).

The 2 small keyed lugs on each 34-pin connector have been filed down to allow connection of any type of drive: FD-1, 3.5 inches classic, gotek...

A switch makes swapping possible between drives, A becomes B and vice versa, practical if you have a gotek and a 3 inch connected simultaneously. For the drives to be recognized, it'll be necessary to ensure that the drive at the end of the ribbon cable has its "drive select" jumper set to 0 and the one in the middle to 1 (no need to do this on a FD-1 , it will respond in any case, its location on the ribbon cable determines whether it is A or B).

The original amsdos ROM has been replaced by a 32 kB amsdos/parados ROM (soldered without stand due to insufficient room). The choice is made by setting pin 27 to 0v (amsdos) or 5v (parados). Currently it is hardwired to 0v because I no longer have micro switch on hand. (However it's not very serious, parados was very useful in order to have 720k of storage per physical diskette, with gotek storage is almost unlimited so we don't care much).

front of the modded Amstrad CPC DDI-1

back of the modded Amstrad CPC DDI-1

side of the modded Amstrad CPC DDI-1




SymbOS v3.1 by Prodatron is available for Amstrad CPC, PCW, MSX and EP

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SymbOS v3.1 by Prodatron, the multitasking operating system for Amstrad CPC and PCW, MSX and Elan Enterprise can be downloaded now.

There is an updated documentation in english of Symbos 3.1.

boot image of SymbOS v3 by Prodatron for Amstrad CPC

Release notes for 3.1 [30.12.2021]

Extensive hardware support

- Graphics9000 for CPC and EP: The V9990 based graphic card with its MSX origin, probably the most powerful one for 8bit systems, can be used on both the Amstrad CPC and the Enterprise 64/128 now, too. Resolutions of up to 1024x212 with 16 colours and fast graphic output is possible now on nearly all supported SymbOS platforms. This makes it possible to run about 50 different applications on three different platforms with this graphic card.
- SYMBiFACE 3 for CPC and EP: USB-mouse, realtime clock and USB memory stick with up to 2TB is supported directly in the operating system on both the Amstrad CPC and the Enterprise 64/128. Additional features of this extensive all-in-one hardware by TMT Logic can be used in specialized applications.
- PCW with uIDE and HxC direct access support: The Amstrad PCW is now able to access huge mass storage devices as well with sizes of up to 2TB. The uIDE8 interface by Jon B is supported for fast CF card access, which makes even video playback possible on the PCW. HxC direct SD card access is available as well.
- Graphics9000 with hardware mouse pointer: All G9K versions of SymbOS do now use the hardware cursor in bitmap mode, which makes a fast and flicker free mouse pointer possible.
- M4Board network RTC support: The NTP based Realtime clock of the M4Board is supported in SymbOS CPC.

Dynamic driver system for CPC and EP

- Hardware autodetection: During the booting process SymbOS CPC and EP is autodetecting all available and supported HID, RTC and mass storage hardware.
- Hardware autoselection: Available hardware will be autoselected with prioritisation of newer devices.
- CPC 1MB support: Memory expansions with 1MB or more are supported again. SymbOS will automatically switch to 1MB support during booting, if more than 576KB Ram are detected, so there is no need for a seperate version anymore.
- Minimal config for 128K systems: If SymbOS detects a system with only 128K, all additional features (extended desktop, screen saver, desktop background picture) will be deactivated automatically during booting. You will always have 31K or more free on your system.

SymAmp with advanced audio hardware support

- New driver system: A new driver-like system for including and managing hardware and sound module support has been added to SymAmp. All detected hardware is listed in a new dialogue window where you can select your prefered sound device.
- Enterprise 64/128 Dave AY emulation: The AY emulation by IstvanV and Geco is now official part of SymAmp and can play Soundtrakker 128, Starkos and PT3 modules with the Dave soundchip of the Enterprise 64/128.
- MP3 for nearly all platforms: MP3MSX and compatible sound cards (SE-ONE, SYMBiFACE 3) are now supported on the Amstrad CPC and Enterprise 64/128 as well.
- CPC PlayCity 6 channel Dual PSG: Finally we have PlayCity support integrated in the official release version of SymAmp.
- MSX Darky 6 channel Dual PSG: 6channel PT3s can be played on the MSX with the Darky catridge.
- PCW Dk'tronics AY board: SymAmp is now able to play Soundtrakker 128, Starkos and PT3 modules on the Amstrad PCW as well, if a Dk'tronics AY hardware expansion is connected.

Kernel improvements


- Memory management: The memory management has been optimized again. The system now searches for free transfer area space starting at the very end of the memory, when loading an application. This reduces memory fragmentation again.
- Relocation table handling: During loading an application the temporary relocation table is loaded to any free memory location, which can be in any 64K ram bank. This makes it possible to load applications which are using the full available 63K of one bank.

Graphics9000 fullscreen game mode


- P1 patternmode support: The Quigs IDE is now supporting screen mode P1, which provides two pattern layers, 127 sprites and up to 61 colours with a resolution of 256x212. Flappy Bird is the first game, which is using this and running on all supported platforms (Amstrad CPC, MSX, Enterprise 64/128)
- Graphics9000 interrupt handling: The kernel supports the handling of V9990 line interrupts. This can be used for enabling splitscreens in fullscreen games and will be supported by the Quigs IDE soon.

Desktop Manager

- Context menus: This new features allows an application to open a context menu at any place on the screen.
- Frame resizing and movement: The user can resize and move a dotted frame on the screen. This makes screen area selections possible.
- Modal window unclick events: The GUI sends an event, if the user is clicking outside of a modal window. This can be used for creating own complex dropdown menus.
- Transparent bitmaps: a new graphic control allows bitmaps with a transparent colour (0).
- CPC mode 1 textoutput speed: The speed of the textoutput routines has been increased on the Amstrad CPC in mode 1.

New applications since 3.0


- SymbOS E-Mail: The full functional E-Mail client is now available for SymbOS 3.1 (by EdoZ, using Quigs).
- Flappy Bird: This is the first game which is using the new Quigs IDE feature for creating fullscreen games on the Graphics9000 graphic card (by EdoZ & Trebmint, using Quigs).
- Sokoban: A very advanced implementation of the classic Sokoban game.
- ChessSym: The first chess application with a strong AI for SymbOS (by Trebmint, using Quigs).
- Doom: Play Doom in SymbOS - even multiple times! This 3D egoshooter has been ported from a TI-calculator to SymbOS (by zDoom team, NYYRIKKI, Prodatron)
- 2048: Another well-known game is now available for SymbOS as well (by Trebmint, using Quigs)
- DiskDumper: This dumps a complete floppy disc to a DSK file, used by Amstrad CPC emulators.
- VDP screen adjustment tool: Adjust the screen position and screen frequency of your MSX VDP or Graphics9000.
- Hexe: Simple Hex monitor and editor.

Miscellaneous

- Bug fixing: Bugs have been removed as usual, including the boot logo on the Amstrad CPC and PCW and the joystick handling on the Enterprise 64/128.



Amstrad CPC CRTC Compendium v1.1 by Longhsot, and a new version of Amazing Demo

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Longshot has released a new version of Amazing Demo and the Amstrad CPC CRTC Compendium which is a documentation about the CRTC 6845 (and some others circuits). Note that the CRTC is a generic component used in several computers including the IBM PC.

He made this demo compatible with all CRTC. The choice of Amazing Demo isnt harmless. A benchmark program : SHAKER (V1.8) comes with the compendium and shows several things stated in the document. Dont hesitate if you have a idea to add something in this document. A english version is being translated at the moment.

NoRecess wrote about this (in english)



A serial port for 15 euros for your Amstrad CPC by Kiragregis

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After sending a SMS on his Amstrad CPC (with a lot of humor), Kiragregis is back for something else.

This time it's a fois-ci c'est un RS-232 project (using 12 volts whereas a TTL is using 5 volts, like the Usifac) for only 15 euros of electronic components. You can see his RS232 project being showed in video (french inside).

Electronic plans are available in the next message following the video on CPCWiki.

Beware, with this RS232 expansion, dont forget to connect the serial cable with the Amstrad CPC switched OFF !




Amstrad noob, an interesting Amstrad CPC blog

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On CPCWiki some time ago I discovered the Amstrad Noob blog with a Youtube channel, but I didnt take time to write about it. It's now done, I recommend to read this blog. The last article is about the RGB2HDMI (youtube video) that I saw already being used by Retro Theory.




An unofficial Amstrad CPC mini by Retronano

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Retronano is making miniatures computers in 3D with a Raspberry PI inside, for example an Amiga 3000, Macintosh 2, etc...

This time the target is a miniature (20% of the real size) Amstrad CPC 6128 with a Raspberry PI zero (knowing that the zero 2 is out since not very long and much more powerful). The SD card goes into the not for real disk drive of this miniature 6128, it's a nice idea.

Click on the link above for more informations including price :

  • 40€ for the model alone without electronics
  • 99€ for the model with Pi zero, sdcard with cpc emu, hdmi adapter and micro usb hub (only 4 in strock)

He takes orders by message, payement by paypal, delivery 6€ for France and 12€ for europe.

It's very nice but I have already 3 raspberry PI at home with installed Amstrad CPC emulator and in fact I am using my good old Amstrad CPC 6128+ instead or plain 6128. So I dont feel the urge to buy oe for myself.



Upgrading an Amstrad MegaPC with the MegaCard

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You are the happy owner of an Amstrad MegaPC Amstrad and you wish to offer it to me for Christmas ? So don't hesitate to buy first the MegaCard to upgrade your computer and offer it the following features :

  • ALS100 sound controller chip providing SB/SBPRO/SB16 compatibility
  • real Yamaha OPL3 FM chip
  • Realtek 8019AS network controller providing a 10mbps ethernet connection and boot rom support for XT-IDE BIOS
  • scandoubler that makes possible for the onboard MegaDrive to output a standard VGA signal
  • an optional exclusive Serdaco MIDI daughterboard - the X3GS with a 16MB Roland-licensed GS soundbank (same core features as X2GS)
  • ISA header and MIDI I/O + routing configuration for an upcoming PCMIDI MPU upgrade db

For more informations on this card and photos, go read the thread on Vogons.

You can see a video of RMC - The Cave which shows the MegaCard on Youtube.

You can also check the Amstrad PC group on Facebook where it has been showed several times already.




The Wrath of the MCPC by LambdaMikel with joystick and LambdaSpeak (CPCRetroDev 2021)

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Michael Wessel has released for the CPCRetroDev 2021 contest a game in basic 1.0 : The Wrath of the MCPC.

He just released a new version with joystick support and compatible with LambdaSpeak vocal synthesis which you get with his sound cards : LambdaSpeak 1.95, LambdaSpeak III and LambdaSpeak FutureSoft Edition (LS-FS). You can see a video of the vocal synthesis on Youtube.




Play2CPC aka Plus2CPC II by Abalore and ToTO for Amstrad CPC(+)

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After the Plus2CPC by Abalore (see on CPCWiki), here is the Play2CPC which is a mix between the Plus2CPC by Abalore (adding a cartridge for all CPC even CPC+ on expansion port) and the PlayCity. The Play2CPC adds three AY channels and one noise generator (6 channels and 2 noise generators for the PlayCity) and the possibility to modify the content of the pseudo cartridge. For more informations, I invite you to read CPCWiki (link above).



Network, XT-IDE, adlib, 512 Kb RAM, ISA slot for Amstrad PPC 640 (internal) by Retro Theory

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Retro Theory is showing a photo of an internal card for Amstrad PPC 640 which is replacing the internal modem to add :

  • LAN ethernet
  • XT-IDE with SD card
  • adlib sound
  • 512 Kb de RAM (8 Kb granularity)
  • ISA slot


Using a PS/2 keyboard on an Amstrad PC XT (1512/1640/2086/3086)

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736 Kb of RAM on an Amstrad PPC 512 and PC 1640 by Retro Theory

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Thanks to the Super PC/Turbo XT BIOS 3.1 Retro Theory now has 736 Kb of RAM under msdos, super fast booting compared to the stock BIOS/ROS. Mem check is skipped, parity checking had to be altered, and CGA 80Col is hardcoded for now.

He had to modify the source code for testing the Nec V30 processor which is on the PPC 512. This stock new BIOS works well on an Amstrad PC 1640.

The additionnal RAM comes of course from an ISA board.



Several long videos about servicing an Amstrad GX4000 in french by CabryDIY

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I am guilty of not viewing these videos by CabryDYI (french inside), but reading the title, they should interest you if you need to repare or service an Amstrad GX4000. Happy viewing.




New batch of the V9990 CPC Powergraph using a MX4 port

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A new batch of the V990 CPC Powergraph card is available (card by Tecnobytes), 30 will be available with already 16 taken. This card is connected on a MX4 slot to be used on an Amstrad CPC.

This is not the V9990 Powergraph Light Rev 2 with built-in adapter by Tecnobytes, which is a MSX cartridge for MSX or Amstrad CPC which you can connect with the Amsdap (MX4 with a cartridge slot), see Prodatron's video in 2018.

Several programs are being written for SymbOS using this graphic card, including FlappyBird.

Beware this graphic card needs an analog 15 kHz signals through discrete RGB connectors (VGA, DVI-A, and/or SCART), check the 15khz wiki.




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